It was supposed to stop this season. Graeme McDowell, a no-name to most sports fans a year ago, had the season of a lifetime in 2010. He won a major. He was the clincher in a very competitive Ryder Cup. He beat Tiger Woods head-to-head when Woods had a huge lead. He did everything he was supposed to do.
But like most that have come before him, the year was supposed to end there. "2010 was yours, Graeme, now go back to being a nobody."
But that sure isn't the case after his performance in Hawaii. Three decent rounds to start the 2011 PGA Tour season, McDowell blew up Kapalua on Sunday. His 11-under 62 at the Hyundai showed us all something; he isn't going anywhere, so get used to his incredible swing and even better accent.
How did he do it? Simple. McDowell made 11 birdies, and was a shot away from the course record when he got to the 18th, but his birdie putt burned the edge for a 61. How costly was the missed putt? It kept him out of a playoff with Robert Garrigus and Jonathan Byrd, one that Byrd eventually won when Garrigus missed a short par putt on the second playoff hole.
Still, McDowell continues to be the name that we see near the tops of leaderboards. The dominance isn't just in the way he scores. Sure, he has become as good as it gets with all the clubs in the bag, but the way he walks around the golf course, and the way he talks to his ball is different. He knows he's the best out there right now, and he just lets the sticks do what they're made to do.
Was McDowell upset he didn't get a chance to take home the trophy this week? I'm sure, it's hard when you do that much on Sunday to put yourself in a position but come up a shot short. Is he going to leave this week with a little grin on his face, knowing that the wins will continue to pile up as he game continues to mature and he puts himself in more situations like Kapalua? Absolutely, and the other PGA Tour members might be thankful McDowell has decided to scale back his trips to America in 2011.